Mark Derry
music in the park san jose

Late in the night, the cabbie summed it up on the ride back from the MGM Grand. “Mayweather, he just never gives a good fight, never …”

As a “homer” in the press corp, rooting for Gilroy’s Robert Guerrero to put a blemish on Floyd “Money” Mayweather’s 43-0 record, the Showtime WBC welterweight title fight and main boxing event became more and more frustrating to witness as the rounds went on – and I’m certain that our “Ghost” felt the same way in the ring. The sports writers surrounding me representing USA Today, CNN and the Orange County Register were merciless with deriding comments as the bout went on, one proclaiming, “I’m waiting for Guerrero to go through the ropes, he’s making him look silly.”

I thought Guerrero had a shot until the 10th round.

The Ghost came back in the 9th after taking an 8th round pounding that prompted the ringside doctor to hop up between rounds to talk to the referee. My guess: Doc told the ref that if the puffed-up bulge over Guerrero’s left eye opened up, the fight was over. Period.

In the 9th, Gilroy’s Ghost – knowing full well he needed a knockout to claim supremacy – called upon his inner reserve and gave it a whirl. I had him winning the round, but Guerrero just couldn’t nail him with that powerful left hand. It looked like he had a shot every time he stalked Mayweather, who purposefully would meander back to the ropes. But then, invariably, he ducked the forthcoming left uppercut. Guerrero, too, must have thought, “One time, just one time, and I can take him out.”

But Mayweather won the dodge punch championship time and time again. By the time the 10th round came around, Mayweather ramped up the victory dance, jiving and taunting Guerrero, dropping his gloves, feinting with head bobs and begging his opponent to “come get me.” Before the fight, the all-knowing, pack-thinking sports writers said that Mayweather had lost a step and didn’t have the legs he used to. If Team Guerrero ever believed that, they certainly didn’t after the fight.

Mayweather brought to mind the old Muhammad Ali line, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” He floated away with his feet and upper body when he needed to evade Guerrero’s jab and he stung Gilroy’s champion with lightning flurries that left welts and drew blood.

The Ghost learned. He’d be better prepared next time, but it’s the proverbial snowball’s chance in a Las Vegas summer that he’ll get another shot at robbing Mayweather and his Money Team of its “0.” Of it’s own volition, the fight just wasn’t captivating enough.

Sure, I’m a Gilroy “homer” – I  think Guerrero could beat him – but Saturday night there wasn’t a doubt in the arena about who would be raising his arms.

The whole scene seemed surreal. A fully costumed Dia de Los Muertos skeleton paraded around the ring in between fights waving a Mexican flag, rapper Lil Wayne led Mayweather and his gold-chain-draped, sunglass-wearing entourage into the ring and the scantily clad female parade that poured into their dresses and headed to the arena seemed like a scene from before the adult film awards.

The written messages from the two camps contrasted as much as the two fighter’s styles. In one corner, Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero from not-much-glitz-or-glamour Gilroy, CA sporting a black “God is Great” t-shirt and a reference to a Bible verse on the elastic waistband rimming his boxing trunks. In the other corner, Floyd “Money” Mayweather, currently from Las Vegas, NV aka sin city, with the “TMT” logo representing the The Money Team splattered nearly everywhere possible. It was “God” versus “Money”, guts versus glide and Gilroy versus Vegas.

Outside the ring, the camps traded nasty public punches. Ruben Guerrero, Robert’s father and trainer, went for the public knockout at a press conference calling Mayweather a “woman beater” referencing his arrest for domestic violence. “We’re going to beat up that woman beater, the one that beat up his wife, man,” Ruben said, … “He must have learned it from his Dad. Women beaters, baby. We’re going to beat that woman beater. We’ll see how he’s going to like it. He’s going to get it from a real man.”

Mayweather countered tossing a nasty into the ring accusing Guerrero of using his wife Casey’s battle with leukemia as a way to become a fan favorite. Said Mayweather, “… just to gain fans you are using your wife’s story, you are using a sympathy story.”

Plenty of low blows outside the ring. Yeah, it’s just “part of the game” right? But, really? Talking trash about domestic violence charges and a wife who’s a cancer survivor? Just get in the ring, men.

Gilroy’s Ghost probably won’t get a rematch, but if he does it would be wise to closely review the Muhammed Ali-Joe Frazier bouts. Mayweather, like Ali, used the ropes to hide and absorb energy from punches. And, in grand Ali style, Mayweather hit and ran and wore The Ghost thin. Guerrero hung tough through 12 rounds – points for that, no cigar. Rematch unlikely, but yet The Ghost does know a thing or two about hope, hard work and deliverance.


Reach Editor Mark Derry at [email protected]

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